mcskoufis - 1:38 am on Jan 11, 2012 (gmt 0)
I have the same thing happening in Greece. One company was in the top 3 spots, then got penalized and dropped to below the 5th page of results.
And now guess what, they have a new 2 page domain which has been spammed to death in multiple Argentinean, Chilean, African and Japanese websites with absolutely no relevancy at all.
It ranks #1 for one of the most competitive markets in terms of SEO know-how (in Greece). It even has their @penalizeddomain.com email written on the top of the page... Its been there for the past 3 months with no action whatsoever from Google (I bet they have received 100s of spam reports on this one).
Also a very precious SEO+Social Media project we lost with one company I've partnered with (due to the cost was their verdict) is now at the hands of a very amateur SEO firm utilizing links which are obvious that they are built to game Google's SERPs (there's only Google in Greece) and a year later its search traffic plummeted.
This is one of the top Global companies in the Automotive industry and I can't believe these guys take such a risk for a major brand which has an excellent backlink profile, healthy organic links and regular press coverage.
However on the rest of the projects I am involved (the first one above is relatively new) I have managed to attain excellent and very competitive rankings with very "poor" backlink profiles compared to the others. Just the leading directories, a handful of well-maintained web 2.0 profiles and mainly linkbait and promotional copy on the website.